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Buckle-up. The BPM ride is about to begin…


I’ve just returned from a rather adventurous and eventful trip involving two important dots on Gartner’s magic quadrant for BPM. One is a tech behemoth interested in almost everything related to IT, and the other, a vendor that has a laser focus on BPM.

The first dot is of course IBM and the other dot, allegedly the ‘best one’ on the quadrant, Appian. Ahead Sunrise

I am talking, of course,  about IBM IMPACT at Las Vegas and AppianWorld at Washington D.C. Although the scope and scale of the two events is a study in contrasts, attending both back to back, has thrown up a few interesting insights and takeaways.

The first is to always avoid connections and take direct flights instead.

Ok. I had to get that off my chest, but it was still an interesting takeaway because it seemed to me that one of the constant themes in both conferences and indeed in all events between the two, was the importance of customer experience. (And United seemed to particularly enjoy delaying either me or my flight and then dispatching me and my baggage in opposite directions.)

This was my first check-in at IBM IMPACT at Las Vegas and as expected the central topics continued to be Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud, SMAC or CAMS as IBM wants to call it.  IBM was SMACing everything about, showcasing a ‘composable business’ promising awe-inspiring business benefits. And of course, there was a lot of talk about process. Smart ones too, of course.

At AppianWorld, it was still about the same topics but specifically in the context of BPM as a ‘work platform’ bringing together, social, mobile and cloud deployment.

Interesting parallels and contrasts, Social, mobile, cloud – the commonalities. The big guy is looking at infusing the SMAC force into everything – including BPM – and the other is doing everything in SMAC to enable just BPM.

There is something else that appealed to me more.

Generally speaking, what is becoming very evident in the IT industry is that the core messaging from product vendors, SIs, etc., seems to be getting stronger and louder than ever before in their message to business. Clearly everyone is drumming up a pretty loud and compelling pitch designed to the appeal to business. One could see it clearly at both IMPACT and at AppianWorld.

IMPACT Solution Showcase

Additionally, there is another not-as-apparent but important message sticking out of all the noise to me – the journey itself to deliver those promises to business. And so, what appealed most to me was the perspective I got to these two aspects – the destination and the actual journey. Let me sum up both based on my experiences in the two events.


It is not like no one has ever thought about the final destination, the outcomes or business benefits. It is perhaps likely that we have just been too consumed by the journey to get there. And with everything going on in the market, economies, the convergence of social, mobile and cloud – the Nexus of Forces as Gartner puts it –  is getting everyone to sit up and rethink pretty seriously about delivering value – real value.

Seeing what is possible to make that journey shorter, quicker, easier, it makes one wonder what we were thinking all along. “IT has traditionally short changed business” as Alan Trefler mentioned last year at PegaWorld13. Alan was of course referring to the successful outcomes and the delightful destination and probably not as much about the actual journey itself. But looking at Appian’s product announcements, I got the sense – that it was really going to be a combination of both – less about the journey and at the same time, more about the destination. A near Zero code road to improved revenue, for example.

Zero code is certainly music to the ear.

But honestly, now, is that even possible? And if so, can zero code really be music? Not necessarily to all ears. I am sure the idea of zero-code makes a pretty sizable portion of the IT market squirm uneasily.

With the references at IMPACT, to the cloud market place, an API Economy and so on, and seeing all that in the light of the two points I just discussed, I think we are headed to a serious shift in the economics of IT itself.

It is going to be very very interesting to see how product vendors and SIs team up – how they will align and – indeed even alter – each others interests to what the buying customer is now being trained to expect from IT – both from the journey as much as the destination.

The ride ahead is definitely going to be fantastic. And some turbulence may be expected. So, don’t forget to buckle-up!


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